'Jessie Slaughter' Dad Charged With Child Abuse

Gene Leonhardt, dad of Girl on YouTube bully rant, arrested for abuse.

March 26, 2011, 3:27 PM

March 26, 2011— -- The father of a Florida seventh grader whose profanity-laced video prompted online death threats last year has been arrested for allegedly assaulting his daughter.

Gene Leonhardt, 53, was charged by police in Marion County, Fla., with child abuse in the incident, which occurred last month.

According to the police report, first reported on the website Smoking Gun, the girl said she had been arguing with her father when he "punched her, causing her to have a bloody and swollen lips."

Leonhardt pleaded not guilty to the child abuse charge and was freed on $5,000 bond.

The girl, who goes by the screen name "Jessi Slaughter," saw her YouTube video rocket across the Internet last summer. In it, her rage boiled with violent threats and graphic language that she used against online tormentors she said were bullying her.

Her father also appeared on the video, angrily vowing to call the "cyber police" to get relief for his daughter.

"I'm happy with my life OK? And if you can't, like, realize that and stop hating you know what?" the then 11-year-old said in the video. "I'll pop a Glock in your mouth and make a brain slushy."

"Because you hater-b*****s? You're just, like, jealous of me," she said. "Stop hating on me. I'm just a normal girl who's perfect in every way and you're just jealous."

She ended the video by giving the middle finger and blowing a kiss at the camera.

"I stand behind it 100 percent because it cleared up a lot of things that were posted," she told ABCNews.com.

"I just want it to kind of like turn positive," she said. "And I kind of do like the attention but I don't like so much negative attention."

Jessi created an Internet firestorm when she posted the nearly five-minute video raging against online bullies who had called her names and accused a friend of raping her.

But her online rage, posted to Stickam, a video-sharing site, and uploaded on YouTube, only prompted more hatred, this time from more experienced and vicious computer junkies.

Once her story hit the message boards of 4chan, an infamous and anonymous network of Web savvy users, the threats against Jessi started coming fast and furious. Members of Anonymous, a group linked to 4chan, quickly joined in, as did users of the like-minded site Tumblr.

They posted her full name, address and home phone numbers and death threats began rolling in.

At the time, a Marion County Sheriff's Office spokesman said that detectives there were investigating the situation to look for evidence of cyberbulling and cyber-stalking.

Authorities got involved after a series of phone calls and e-mails were made -- some of them "from some other time zone," Cochran said, warning detectives that a young girl was possibly being exploited online.

Her video, as well as a follow-up video in which her father rages against her bullies, have been seen by millions. There is even a remix that blends her rants with a Justin Bieber song.

In the second video, as Jessi sobs in front of the camera, Gene Leonhardt warns viewers to leave his daughter alone.

"This is from her father. You bunch of lying, no good punks," he said, raging into the webcam. "And I know who it's coming from because I back traced it. And you've been reported to cyber police and the state police."

In an exclusive interview in July with "Good Morning America" Gene Leonhardt said he was only trying to protect his daughter.

"As a father, I was just trying to support my daughter and get people to stop hating," Gene Leonhardt said.

Diane Leonhardt said the entire experience has been frightening.

"When this first started, we were very afraid,' she said.

Experts Say Jessi Slaughter Video Highlights Dangers of Cyberbullying

Last year, Jessi's said her social life had largely been confined to her computer. She told ABCNews.com that most of her friends are online.

"I don't really get along with people from school that much," she said. "They don't like me because they see me and they think I'm weird."

On Stickam, which has had its share of controversy over a proliferation of child pornography images, Jessi would chat back and forth with her cyber friends.

She was also active on the teen gossip site Sticky Drama. It was there, she said, that her nightmare started when another user took a picture of Jessi and a friend at a concert off the photo-sharing site PhotoBucket and posted it along with the rape allegation.

But Jessi, whose account has since been removed at Stickam, insists she's not too young for this kind of activity.

"I think age doesn't really matter," she said. "It's the person -- him or herself ... and how they deal with that."

Jessi told "Good Morning America" that she was sent to a mental health facility when authorities believed she might be suicidal. She insisted that she wouldn't kill herself, but said she could understand how someone could be pushed over the edge.

"I think that's completely wrong that people would taunt people to some degree that they would actually kill themselves over it," she said. "And that's actually completely wrong and whoever is doing it should be locked away for a really long time."

Internet security expert Parry Aftab, founder of WiredSafety.org, agreed that this back and forth of online rants and cyberbullying should have been stopped before it ever got to the point where Jessi was receiving death threats.

"At some point we need to have an adult in charge," she told "Good Morning America." "Don't try to take it into your own hands."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events